Verstappen wants Perez’s arrival to help Red Bull topple Mercedes

2021 Bahrain Grand Prix

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Max Verstappen feels the arrival of Sergio Perez at Red Bull Racing will help the team pressure Mercedes at every grand prix this season.

The Red Bull RB16 won two races in 2020 with Verstappen at the wheel, while Perez inflicted one of Mercedes two other defeats last year in his penultimate outing for Racing Point.

Asked whether he was happy with new team mate ‘Checo’ – his fourth in as many years – Verstappen said: “First of all, I think the team of course needs to be happy in the first place.

“I know Checo now for many years here in the paddock. And now that we are team mates, you get a bit more of an insight how Checo is working. And I think everything so far is running very smooth.

“The feedback, we both are heading into the same direction, I hope it’s the right direction. It’s all going very smooth and it’s nice also to get a bit more of an insight from his side, from his past experiences in other teams. That’s always very good.

“I just hope that as a team now we can really score a good amount of points and really put the pressure to Mercedes every single race weekend.”

Mercedes have downplayed their form ahead of this weekend’s season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix, having faced several setbacks in pre-season testing while Red Bull set the pace. Whether that makes Verstappen’s team the one to beat is of no concern to him.

“What matters is that you perform on track when it counts and where you can score the points. I think you just have to focus on your job and just stay calm, just stay focused, because it just distracts you [thinking about being favourite].”

The upgraded RB16B being used for 2021 has impressed Verstappen and Red Bull’s new signing Perez during pre-season testing. Following a shakedown at Silverstone, Perez got his first proper taste of the car in the test at Bahrain and he went eighth fastest with a personal best lap that was 1.227 seconds slower than Verstappen’s benchmark on Pirelli’s C4 tyre.

“I don’t think I’m driven enough the car, but certainly I would put it up there,” Perez said when asked the RB16B is the best F1 car he’s driven.

“I think it has really, really good potential. I mean it’s all relative to the others for how competitive. It seems to be that it is the most competitive car I’ve I’ve driven so far. But we’ll see in the coming days.”

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Author information

Elliot Wood
Often found in junior single-seater paddocks around Europe doing journalism and television commentary, or dabbling in teaching Photography back in the UK. Currently based...

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17 comments on “Verstappen wants Perez’s arrival to help Red Bull topple Mercedes”

  1. All good. What I hoped and expected to hear. Go for it you two and have some fun! Going to be a blast!

  2. Barry Bens (@barryfromdownunder)
    25th March 2021, 17:55

    Maybe not the most sympathetic (if that is the correct word) team on the grid this yeard, but it’s not like Mercedes has a better one in that regard. As long as they can make it Mercedes hard (or even drive into the horizon themselves, that’d be a nice change too), I’m all for it!

  3. Well yes, right now everything is cordiality and good intentions, which is good, but we will be seeing reality in the next races, everything will depend on how far the pace is truly Checo – Max, that will be the key of everything.

    The initial scenario is that Checo is behind in Max’s rhythm, how far, and for how long? RBR would like them to be more on par, but this would potentially be a risk for the team, I believe that in at some point Checo could be ahead of Max and this might not be pleasant for Max, and how is he going to manage that, Checo did not sign as # 2 of Max, Checo has the talent to fight.

    It´s going to be very interesting to watch. I just hope that Checo and Max fight fairly, and that RBR has a very good fight against Mercedes, I think we all want to see it that way.

    1. I agree. I think that Perez’s ability to manage his tires may end up putting him ahead of Max and that could make for some very interesting on track action, as we’ve also seen that Perez won’t back down when challenged by a team-mate.

      1. @luis @velocityboy Pardon me if I get a bit ‘racy’ with a comment as we get this close to actual racing, but Perez is no Max and will not likely be ahead of him any time soon, and even then it might only be if Max is having a car issue. And as good as you think Perez is at tire management, Max is better at that too. Imho of course;) None of what I have said is with malice towards SP, but simply when has he ever shown himself to have the stuff Max has? What has he done that puts him in your minds heading Max at some point this season? But hey, I’m just giving my opinion, and if somehow SP does find himself that strong with Max, that will be an amazing feat and quite a storyline, and then it would be up to Max to respond and I haven’t a single doubt that he would and in flying colours.

        1. Robbie, I believe that Checo has shown his talent on multiple occasions, and not only in the handling of his tires, I believe that Perez has a better talent than that, the management of the race, that, I think it is his maximum skill, and that’s where Checo and Max will meet.

          RBR knows it, and if RBR can make the right strategies for Perez, Max and Checo will always be in the last laps of each race fighting, one very close to the other, only then will they be able to face Mercedes.

          It is not malice against Max, nor favoritism towards Checo, I just think they are both very talented.

          1. @luis That’s a fair comment. I just don’t think SP is at Max’s level or we would have seen more signs of that in his career, even though he has not had a car as good as this one will be for him. I do think Perez will show us more than he ever has as he will be in his best car so far, but I still say he is no Max. But you may well be right that they will be close to each other near the ends of races, I think more as the season goes along for even Perez has said he’ll need some time and that only makes sense, but I expect Max will have the upper hand in terms of qualifying higher, laps run ahead of him, higher average finishing position… that kind of stuff.

        2. I find it interesting how you guys are talking up how Perez might do really well and that would upset Verstappen @luis, @velocityboy. And no, I don’t fully agree with @robbie here that everything Perez can do, Max can do better either.

          From all the comments Max has made since last year about this, I actually get the feeling that it might have been Max actually pushing for a teammate like Perez. One who can be relied on to pull out solid races, to be able to get the tyres lasting long enough to steal a podium away and in the right circumstances a podium. To achieve. I think he might actually WANT to be pushed, since he knows how that is what helps a driver push and helps a team iron out the issues with their car. It sure hasn’t hurt Hamilton to have teammates like Alonso and Rosberg, or Button and to an extent Bottas as well, push him to improve his own skills.

          Sure, Max will fully expect that overall he will beat Perez, maybe he even expects it to be a crushing defeat of his teammate. But what he probably is looking for far more, is that Perez will finsih ahead of Bottas, and make it harder for Hamilton to give himself the better chance at beating the Mercedes cars to it in the races.

          1. @bascb Exactly. Max, especially if they are still lagging behind Mercedes, and depending on how much, can use a stronger guy like Perez to prevent Mercedes from being able to strategize their way into seeing LH ease away and go into coast and conserve mode, controlling the pace of the race. If RBR can’t match them still but can at least make their lives more difficult, well that might be the best they can do, and Perez can help in forcing their hand at times and keeping the pressure on them to at least make them push until the end. Take some strategy options away from them.

          2. Yes, for all I saw I agree verstappen was pushing to get a competitive team mate, he’s been quite critical at times towards albon’s performances, and as someone who considers albon and gasly’s red bull stint abysmal I can’t blame him for that.

  4. I seriously doubt Perez will give Max a hard time. Maybe on occation when circumstances play in his favour he might be close. But overall he will be just as destroyed as the others.
    Gasly didn’t suddenly become great last year. The car was that good on those occasions.
    Formula 1 is ALWAYS about the car and team mate.
    But we’ll see. I may be wrong. Doubt it though.

    1. Never commented here before..but mark my words Perez will be dumped before the year is over and replaced by Albon..you heard it here first. He will be so bad. Even his body language at the moment betrays him. That pink Mercedes was an amazing car but you guys couldn’t see it. I mean it won pole comfortably in the hands of average drivers!

      Reply moderated
      1. Absolutely disagree, perez shouldn’t be verstappen’s level but I’m sure he will drive red bull at least at a decent if not a good level, ricciardo-like, unlike gasly or albon who really weren’t able to drive a competitive car.

        1. I know its only day one and first practice but guess who your boy Checo has next to him? Gasly..lets see Practice 2 and quali tomorrow. Excuses will start coming out. We shall be told he was never a great qualifier and he shows his quality during the races oh and he is a good tyre preserver..this is F1 and its about pace and speed. Trouble is if Max is in P1 and your man is P10 because Carlos and Daniel did not turn on the tap fully during FP1 we will run out of excuses quickly. Thats the trouble with going up against the likes of Senna, Shumacher, Hamilton, Max when you are average. So lets watch Practice 2 and get back to this thread after qualy tomorrow.

          By the way I think Rosberg and Bottas were excellent drivers who have been treated unfairly on these forums because they were up against a legend.

  5. Go Checo.
    The weakest link at Mercedes is Bottas. Put pressure on Bottas is the first step to handle Hamilton and score more points than Mercedes. Wins for Max, podiums for Checo, rinse and repeat. Wins for Checo, podiums for Max. Being consistent is what is needed first.

    1. I remember Barcelona some time ago now when Button couldn’t get the car into Q3 and yet Hammi was on pole! although it was taken away due to fuel infringements. If the grid is so tight then 3 tenths make a huge difference. When your man is P! and you are not even in Q3 you have zero excuse. Russel jumped into a car and got it unto the front row no hassle. I never ever commented on forum before but for some reason wathcing all the fuss around Checo has really made me come out..what is this? talent is obvious from day one..think Senna, Hammi, Shcmacher, MAx etc..and I dont like Max but have to admit the guy has got something special. How people can compare him to a Max is beyond comprehension. I warned before FP1 and now we have seen FP2..loking like qualy will be even worse for Checo as others would turn on the gas.. I suspect that Max has some in store as does Hammi..these guys always leave some in store..Sorry Checo. Now we know why Albon was retained..he will be back in that car after 3 races.

    2. Bottas weakest link? Looks like your man Checo is the weakest link..I repeat Checo loses his drive after 3 races..you heard that here first. That Aston Marin or Pink Mercedes was a monster..how else can a guy like Stroll get a pole? You guys and your Checo has been found out badly..your team mate on please by 3tenths! and you can’t make Q3..thats the issue

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